In the Beginning…
The roots of the 23AE stretch as far back in time as 1913, when the theatre troupe known as the Randy Caboose Ltd was created in Boston, Massachusetts. Its members included five fine actors by the names of Christi Rhonson, Rhoda O’Brien, Doug O’Brien, John Rivers and John Guidry. The troupe only played what Rhoda and Doug had written in terms of “plays” (and that word is a very loose description of what it was that the troupe did).
All five members were still involved with the troupe when the roaring twenties rolled around and by then they had become a local sensation. Their most popular shows were said to be “straight out of the classics” by critics and the Boston Globe once printed and article mistakenly referring to their shows as “…obscure Greek plays that have been entertainingly bowdlerized to the point of chaos”.
In 1923, Rhoda and Doug were violently killed in their home. The police report says, “…both throats were slit from ear to ear…” and “…intricate crosses were painted with their blood on the wall…”. After the death of the husband and wife pair of writers and actors, the remaining three tried to make a go of it with the existing plays. The two actors they hired to replace Rhoda and Doug ended up robbing the troupe of their already meager bankroll and the Randy Caboose Theatre Troupe was no more. For thirty years the name Randy Caboose was used only to describe an obscure French dance.
Almost thirty years later, Shawn and Carol Langlais moved into the same house Rhoda and Doug were murdered in. Their boy, Paul, was only a teenager then. Paul broke a wall in his closet one day and found a pile of reviews that had somehow been left there by the O’Briens. The reviews were spaced out by actual writings of the O’Briens, and some of their raw notes.
Paul was fascinated by the writings and amused by the critics who had totally misunderstood just about everything they had written. They called a story celebrating mystery and conundrums a “tribute to love you won’t want to miss” and a story that was actually about love “in the tradition of Homer”. It was like they hadn’t even experienced what he had read.
Through his last years of high school, Paul became engrossed in the stories and the notes they had left behind and began acting some of their characters in his daily life. When he went to college he met “Doc Kit” and shared his find. Doc Kit (his real name is unknown to existing members of the 23AE) had already been interested in different, eclectic things. A fan of Duchamp and other dadaists, he introduced Paul (later dubbed Rev. Irish by modern Apples) to a whole new world just as Larry introduced Doc Kit to the Randy Caboose writings.
Eventually the duo created the Randy Caboose Cabal, a small group of like-minded friends. The rolls included the occasional Dadaist, magician, or beatnik, but most of the membership was made up of plain, unassuming people. The Randy Caboose Cabal was a precursor to today’s discordians and cacophonists. In those times they were invariably described as “pranksters”, but their pranks were of a more intelligent sort than pulling a chair out from under somebody who was in the process of sitting down (though their pranks had similar effects – shock and surprise).
Their favorite prank was to invite as many people as possible to meet in a public place and have no sort of leadership present when they got there. One example of this was the “Rally for the Troops” they held in Boston Commons. It is estimated that over 5,000 people showed up, and not one had any clue how to proceed once they got there.
The Randy Caboose Cabal’s membership flip-flopped for the next 10 years, the only constants being Doc Kit and Rev. Irish. Beatnik membership turned to hippies and magicians to Satanist, but the Doc and Reverend barred no one who found out about the club to join if they wanted to.
Unfortunately, most of the activities that were perpetrated by the Doc and Reverend were never chronicled. The only reason we know they participated in anything remotely familiar to discordia is because of references in diaries and letters to one another and the few things those old bastards who are now with the 23AE remember.
All Hail Discordia…
All that changed in the late 60s when the Doc and the Reverend began stepping away from the Cabal, disliking some of the new member’s habits. It was during this period that we have in our library many writings from earlier members of the Cabal, though they are truly just Pro-Marxist/Socialist, Anti-Capitalist ramblings.
Current members of the 23AE understand why the multi-faceted Doc Kit and Rev. Irish left the group – it had become yet another group of what there were plenty of – extreme left wing, unimaginative hippies who took themselves (and their drug use) much too seriously.
By the mid-seventies, much of the former spirit of the Randy Caboose Cabal was recaptured by members Reverend Happy Fun Ball, Dr. S. Hemophilia and Saint Missy S. Pew. As you can tell by the names, these three members had already found the great Principia Discordia. All three members had been part of the Cabal for years, and realized that the Randy Caboose Cabal had always been a group of discordians – they just didn’t know it until they came into possession of the mimeographed documents that contained Hill’s ideas.
After reading the Illuminatus Trilogy in 1977, the three members of the Randy Caboose Cabal decided to admit they practiced discordia and declared the 23 Apples of Eris a subset of the R.C.C. They were much more selective with who they admitted into (or even told about the existence of) the Apples, but most of their creative mindfucks were still disseminated under the sticker of the Randy Caboose Cabal. The 23 Apples of Eris functioned as a “circle within a circle”, if you will, its existence more an elaborate joke and reference to the great secret societies.
Finally, in 1988, the 23 Apples of Eris broke away from the Randy Caboose Cabal. By that time, the 23AE actually had more (and many different) members than the R.C.C. Happy Fun Ball was the nominal Core-peral for a couple years until he passed on the mantel to Prince Mu-Chao in 1991. Now the Rev. Happy Fun Ball is an active participant in the Apples but initiates none of its projects.
Between 1988 and 1991, the Apples and the Randy Caboose Cabal’s Erisians (Inspired Erisians Inc.) teamed up for many incidents and projects, the most notable and long-lasting being the 23 Skidoozine, a pamphlet that was disseminated in Boston and Washington D.C., the two cities that had chapters of the groups. This pamphlet has since been discontinued but is expected to be reprinted on the 23 Apples of Eris site some time in the future. That brings us to…
In 1996 the 23 Apples of Eris turned their attention to the online community and Prince Mu-Chao led the charge, writing up a storm. For a few years they hopped around from online service to online service until finally they gave up on them all and just bought a domain name and server: Castle Chaos. For about three years, Castle Chaos built up a base of regulars and the email started pouring in. Eventually, we asked if anyone wanted to join the 23 Apples and there were a flood of members, many of them emailing items for inclusion on Castle Chaos. Clearly something needed to be done…
We are on our third iteration at 23AE.com and Castle Chaos has moved on to other things. It is no longer clear who is an Apple and who isn’t, but I can’t imagine that anyone would say they are when they aren’t, or that anyone really cares.